Feeling extremely nostalgic lately, I decided to rewatch the pilot episodes of a few 2000s cartoons to see if they held up to my memories of viewing them as a kid. Stories often have a different takeaways and effects on a second viewing, and I’m curious to delve back into the past by rewatching some of my favourite animated series as a child.
Powerpuff Girls (1998-2005)Although the official premiere of Powerpuff Girls was in November of 1998 and its had several reboots and adaptations over the years, the first episode of Powerpuff Girls actually aired in 1994. However, the pilot, “A Sticky Situation!” was aired in festivals only, while the first episode to air on television was aired a year later. Titled “Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins,” the episode introduces one of the series recurring villains, as he tries to turn everything in Townsville into raw, butchered meat. I don’t believe I’ve actually watched this specific episode before, since it aired quite a while before I was born, and due to the episodic nature of the series, I’ve never actually watched it from start to finish. “Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins” was a pretty enjoyable episode to watch and it definitely exhibited all of the nostalgia of Powerpuff Girls. Despite not being the intended age of audience anymore, I still liked the humor of the show, especially with the use of the narration, such as the comedic delivery of “Tough luck, Fuzzy.” Strangely, I don’t see narrators used in animations very much anymore but kind of miss. I loved seeing the original Powerpuff Girls art style and somewhat clunky but endearing animations again, which has since been changed in the rebooted series, and the original designs of the characters including Ms. Keane and Fuzzy Lumpkins. In watching this earlier episode, I also noticed that the character design of the Mayor of Townsville was a bit different, and I’m sure that I recalled seeing him with a monocle throughout most of the episodes I had watched.
Teen Titans (2003-2006)
Like many other series broadcasted on over-the-air television networks, I watched Teen Titans out of order. The first episode I remember watching was “Betrothed” (Season 3, Episode 3), followed by “Sisters” (Season 1, Episode 2). The true first episode of the series is “Divide and Conquer,” which fits in with the chronological nature of most of the series, but an error caused episodes one and three to be swapped. Consequently, the third episode “Final Exam” was aired first as the pilot. “Divide and Conquer” centers around the Titans’ leader Robin and his friendship with Cyborg and foreshadows the villain Slade, “Sisters” is a Starfire-centric episode and establishes the lengthy seasons long romantic subplot between Robin and Starfire, and “Final Exam” emphasizes the power of teamwork as well as introduces another important antagonistic force, The HIVE Academy. Because I was concerned I wouldn’t understand the plot, I ended up just watching the entirety of the first three episodes. Despite that confusion, I really enjoyed Teen Titans and I found the characters to be relatable & mature enough even for an older audience. I think what the show does really well is keeping a balance of seriousness and comedy. There are definitely a lot of goofy moments and even a sweet romantic subplot, but Teen Titans also has intriguing season long plotlines that can incorporate darker and more mature themes, and I can see that already brewing with the setup in the first three episodes. I also liked how the series really explores its characters, especially with the second episode “Sisters,” which tackles Star’s relationship with her sister and her insecurities of being a fish out of water as an alien on Earth.
Winx Club (2004-2009)
Even though Winx Club’s first season was aired in 2004, it had been in development for several years prior, with the pilot episode “Magic Bloom” being produced from 2001-2002. However, the episode was never presented in full, with parts being showed at a convention in 2018. From what has been released, “Magic Bloom” featured a different animation and art style that was much more similar to Japanese-style anime than the French fashion sketches that Winx Club’s style is known for being based on. Because the pilot wasn’t fully available, I decided to watch the first episode of season one, which confusingly has two titles: “An Unexpected Event” in the Cinelume English Dub and “It Feels Like Magic” in the 4kids English Dub. I’m pretty sure the version of Winx Club for the earlier seasons that I watched first when I was younger is the 4kids version, which was pretty censored, and involved the renaming of several locations and the fairy Aisha was renamed as Layla. “It Feels Like Magic” kicks off the series with main character Bloom discovering her magical powers and deciding to take up an education in Alfea, a school for faries in Magix. Rewatching the first episode of Winx felt extremely nostalgic with the familiar and catchy songs and y2k 2000s fashion. I really enjoyed the first episode, and it felt it was an intriguing and strong begining to the series. Although the first episode takes place mostly on Gardenia/Earth, the glimpse of Magix in the episode reminded me of one of my favourite things about the series. Winx Club takes a unique and interesting spin on fantasy and fairies, with its brightly coloured environments and combination of magic and sci-fi technology being a far departure from the usual European knights and castles.